It’s happening, people, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
Everyone’s favorite food processing company, Heinz, is bringing Utah’s beloved fry sauce to the masses later this year. Will it actually be called fry sauce? We aren’t sure yet.
When Heinz made the announcement a few weeks ago, calling the concoction “Mayochup,” social media reacted accordingly. Generally, folks outside Utah scratched their heads — it doesn’t matter where you’re from, the name “Mayochup” sounds like a gag reflex made manifest. Those inside Utah, however, were less repulsed than they were exasperated.
Luckily, Heinz is crowdsourcing other possible names, and lists 96 such submissions on its website. Of those 96 submissions, six include the term “fry sauce,” including “Fry Sauce, Obviously,” “FRY SAUCE!!!!!!!!!,” and “It’s FRY SAUCE you monsters.” (To whoever submitted “Saucy McSauceface”: Thank you for your service.)
The Mayochup debate is new, but this particular kind of Utah obstinance is not. It is so much of what makes Utah Utah, for better and for worse.
In 2015, I wrote a piece for Salt Lake City Weekly about Provo’s oft-hyped music scene, and whether or not it should matter to Utahns outside Utah County. In that piece I wrote the following:
“The desire to be noticed, to be reckoned with, to be respected by the national community — yet still consider oneself separate from it — is quintessentially Utahn, isn't it? Indeed, it's at the root of Utah's pioneer history.”
For that reason, I argued, Provo music had significance to the rest of Utah: The way the scene viewed itself, and the way it wanted others to view it, spoke to the character of Utah collectively. The same could be said for fry sauce, I think. In this case, it seemingly isn’t enough for Heinz to call it fry sauce. No, it’s as if Utahns want something more. Perhaps a name like Utah’s Own Fry Sauce™.
For those unfamiliar, some brief fry sauce history: The fast food chain Arctic Circle, which started in Utah, claims that its founder, Don Carlos Edwards, created the condiment in 1940. A similar sauce, known as “salsa golf,” showed up in Argentina a few decades earlier, and became one of the country’s culinary staples. Fry sauce even makes a memorable appearance in the 2008 comedy “Step Brothers,” where it’s called “fancy sauce.” (Will Ferrell’s character is very, very protective of his fancy sauce — is this guy from Utah?)
So yes, fry sauce has made the rounds. And is it any surprise? I mean, fry sauce is basically just ketchup and mayonnaise mixed together. This isn’t rocket science, people. Ketchup has gone on hamburgers since their inception. I don’t know when mayo became a normal burger condiment — I researched it, to no avail — but it probably wasn’t far behind.
I recently watched the first season of “Ugly Delicious,” a new Netflix series starring renowned American chef David Chang. Each episode is dedicated to a different entrée, and delves into each one’s guiding ethos, its origins and its evolution. Whether it’s pizza or fried chicken or tacos, “Ugly Delicious” takes viewers around the world to show how food impacts culture and vice versa.
“Ugly Delicious” makes clear that yes, a dish may start somewhere, but it never ends there. And thank goodness for that. Imagine a world where pizza never left Italy. Imitation, and consequent innovation, is the sincerest form of culinary flattery. When one culture folds another culture’s food into its own, that’s a step toward deeper acceptance. And acceptance is something Utah has perpetually hungered for.
In Utah, fry sauce elicits such zeal. But if the condiment represents Utah at its best, let it not reveal us at our worst. Would fry sauce by any other name not taste as sweet?